The Minister for Finance has announced that €1.5 billion will be placed in the Rainy Day Fund to "increase the State's resilience to larger economic shocks".

In his Budget speech, Paschal Donohoe said the money will come from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, with a further €500m added to the fund annually from the Exchequer beginning in 2019.

Mr Donohoe added that some of the "historically high levels of corporation tax will be set aside for the purpose of capitalising the fund".

He said the Rainy Day Fund is being built up because Ireland's "ability to withstand economic shocks needs to be stronger".

The minister also said progress in reducing the country's deficit means that "next year I will balance the budget for the first time since 2007".

He added he intends to run a budget surplus into the future "if the economy continues to perform well" and to use the additional income to reduce the national debt.

He noted that the public debt level amounts to €42,000 for every person resident in the State, one of the highest in the developed world. 

Mr Donohoe said that while his department's Summer Economic Statement forecast a deficit of 0.2% this year and 0.1% in 2019, the country's progress means that the deficit will be reduced to 0.1% in 2018. 

He also said the country will continue to reduce its national debt as a percentage of its national income.

In his Budget speech, Mr Donohoe said that total voted expenditure in 2019 will be €66.5 bn, which amounts to €13,571 for every person living in the country.